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Tech at Night: FCC forced to do the right thing on content; FTC all wrong on Google antitrust

Tech at Night

Even the Obama regulators occasionally do things right. It was right for FCC to let the regulation die that forced cable companies to license original content to competitors. Though as The Hill points out, it may have done so out of a fear that the courts would force the issue anyway, not out of any desire to deregulate. Naturally House and Senate Democrats can’t abide the least bit of deregulation.

But don’t worry, they’re still making mistakes, too. They can’t free up spectrum until 2015, moving at a snail’s pace in a fast moving industry. And FTC’s antitrust attacks on Google are ludicrous. The standard for antitrust is high: if I recall correctly you have to show market power, being wielded, in a way that harms customers. I’m not sure that, relative to Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon, that such points can be made at all.

I’m sorry but some of the theorizing against Google is just terrible, and based in speculation that presumes guilt. Begging the question in articles like this (for example, not even testing a competing service, because of the assumption that Google controls Bing search results, and further that all bias in Bing is caused by Google), is just silly. Reasoning like this creates a no-win scenario for google. You can’t falsify a claim when you can’t disprove it, and when there’s no competitor to check against as a control, you don’t even have a null hypothesis in sight.

Yes, I support most of Google’s manipulations. Even the above poster admits that black hat and gray hat SEO consultants have been trying to treat Google searches as their own private playground, and feel entitled, yes entitled, to manipulate results for pay. I hate those guys. I hate them very much. They are the people responsible for so much comments spam online, and they’re customers of hackers who run botnets to drive such spam. They’re a blight on the Internet and pretty much anything Google does to punch them in the gut, I support.

How about some cybersecurity? DHS is not competent to handle what Obama wants it to do, so while it makes sense to beef up government’s own cybersecurity, the Obama administration plans are simply irresponsible.

Information is the best weapon in the cybersecurity wars, anyway, as we’re seeing with Google warning people of state actors attacking Gmail accounts.

Key point in the Google Library saga, where Google’s been pushing to loosen copyright on ‘abandoned’ works. You cannot trust publishers to look out for authors, as publishers have already cut a deal even as the authors are fighting Google on this.

I think this whole abandoned books issue is precisely the backward way to reform copyright. It attacks the little guy, while ignoring the big guys who can keep their works protected. The result is a sliding scale of copyright where the big businesses get longer copyright than the small authors, which turns copyright on its head. If we need copyright reform (and we pretty much do), reduce it for all to a reasonable, fixed span. Perhaps 50 years, though I could be talked into 75. No more extensions.

Strict enforcement of Regulation. Accelerated innovation. Pick one, because you can’t have both.

Remember how Sprint and my comments section at RedState insisted that combination of the #2 and #4 was the worst thing ever for competition? Well Sprint’s already changed its mind, and wants #3 Sprint Nextel and #5 MetroPCS to combine, instead of #4 T-Mobile and #5 MetroPCS, in order to enhance competition. Which it could. Since it’s all about Spectrum. T-Mobile can compete better with Verizon if it gets MetroPCS spectrum. Ditto Sprint. Until FCC gets out of the way, these deals are a key way to compete.

The resale of digital goods is an interesting topic. I’m sympathetic to the idea that there should be full resale rights, and firms shouldn’t be allowed to use the law to prevent it. But I think that has to be done in a way that doesn’t effectively undermine copyright by enabling mass illegal distribution, or preventing a right of copyright holders to use whatever awful DRM they want.

DRM is ‘Digital Rights Management’ software, that inhibits copying – which can include backups or other disfavored uses of a piece of data or software. It can also require online access to a centralized server to use that data or software, which means the data has a limited lifespan dependent on the willingness of the copyright holder to maintain the server. A lesson learned many times as various DRM-laded digital music services died, including Walmart’s and Microsoft’s.

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